Comfort your dog with these expert summer tips

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Summer is a great time to have fun with your dog, but like humans, it’s important to keep a few safety and comfort tips in mind when planning your friend’s day.

Mark Freeman, veterinarian and clinical assistant professor of community practice at Virginia Tech, offers this expert advice:

High temperatures

  • Take your puppy for walks during the cooler hours of the day. Make sure you have shaded access to water when outdoors and water available when you come indoors.
  • Never leave an animal — or a person! – in a hot car. Period. Even a few minutes can be deadly.
  • Just like you, dogs have a harder time sweating – and therefore getting warmer – when it’s humid. “One of the biggest things that most homeowners don’t understand is that it’s not just about heat; you have heat and humidity, Freeman said. Pay particular attention to smaller, shorter-muzzled dogs, who generally cannot handle moisture as well because their panting mechanism is less efficient.
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion, including:

— Suddenly lethargic or weak
— Diarrhea and/or vomiting
— Excessive panting
— Eraser color change (from pink to dark red or purple)
— Convulsions or sudden collapse

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, immediately move him to shade or indoors and offer him fresh water. Call your veterinarian; they may recommend other measures.

Thunderstorms and fireworks

Up to a third of all dogs suffer from noise anxiety related to the suddenness of sound.

“When they’re in a situation where they’re bombarded with noises that cause them tremendous stress, they look for any source of safety, and that includes a ‘safe’ hideout,” Freeman said.

  • There are a number of different techniques that can be used for animals that have phobias associated with loud noises. “A general rule of thumb is to address any phobia through behavior modification therapy, if that’s an option; desensitize animals to loud noises so they pretty much ignore them.”
  • Medications, such as sedatives, can be effective in preventing dogs from experiencing anxiety during stressful events such as fireworks and long storms with lightning and thunder. Sileo is a sedative available in an oral gel which is absorbed by the gum tissue and produces an effect within 30 to 60 minutes. “It was very effective in reducing anxiety in dogs with noise phobias.”

About Freeman

Mark Freeman is a veterinarian and assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. His research interests include animal behavior and molecular biology.

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